James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine
OK so there I was – at the crossroads.
This was a time before the Sterling Men’s Weekend, when I still thought all my female friends held more importance than any silly ole male bonding bullshit, with those boring one-dimensional men. This was before I realized there was a need to find a truly safe and secure place to reveal the depth of my pain and rage. This was before I recognized the incredible open space created by a circle of men.
You see, there was a time when I thought it was OK to just spill all the beans to my female counterparts.
And so the crossroad at which I stood?
It was 1994. I was in an upset state with my live-in girlfriend Kris. We had a nice cottage type home in Ocean Beach. We had dreams of getting married someday and possibly spitting out a kid or two into the world. We were young, and I was dumb.
Again… remember, PRE-MEN’S WEEKEND or any men’s work at all.
Since I was rolling with some upset about something or other, it truly intrigued Kris who said she wanted to know how I felt and for me to show her my emotions. “Let them out,” she said. “You can show me.”
Hmmm, what should I do? It sounded like a good idea. She was encouraging me that it was a safe space. I had some healing work background experience where the free expression flow of emotions was cathartic and relieving.
Ah what the hell! Why not? Why not just let out all that fire and angst in front of her? I mean she did give permission, right?
Don’t fall for it!
Sorry ladies, but the women in the world have no idea what they are asking for when they request men to reveal their depth of emotion.
Right in front of Kris, I let out a blood-curdling scream from the deepest part of my gut, creating a ripping tear in the universal field around our home, and shattering human auras within three miles of where we stood. You know … just a normal outburst.
Her next statement: “I have a new idea. You never do that in front of me again.” She said this literally with shaking hands and a quivering voice.
And she was right. The second time.
First idea: show her all my feelings = bad idea.
Second idea: don’t show her all my feelings = good idea.
Get this men: though the feminine aspect of women may believe its own bullshit, claiming it can handle the intensity of a man’s deep rage and anger, this is simply not true. It cannot. And even if the women pretend that they can, such shattering energy does have a negative rippling effect on their female soul. I believe, though not a politically correct notion in this day and age, the exposure of rage hurts them at a deeper level, and affects their sense of trust and safety and security.
However, my men’s team? What do my men do if I do a “push,” or let out a deep howl at the moon? They stare at me, barely even touched, just watching, in a context of mutual understanding. They stand ready to support me in any way possible, which can even include some physical push-back, if this is needed in the moment.
Such expression of rage is a normal type of behavior that another man can understand, in all of its ill-logic and crazed abandon. Not threatening on any level.
In this light, anger is not a threat. Anger is not violence. Anger is not even negative. It’s just the freedom of pent-up energy that needs its release in a place of masculine care – where it is truly safe.
James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.
2 thoughts on “Know When and How to Take Down the Mask”
Ellis, thank you for this article! I sat for a few moments after reading with tears streaming down my face as I contemplated the anger I carry. I felt less alone and was given hope. I’m excited to be attending the Sterling Men’s weekend in a couple weeks!
Ellis, thanks so much for this. Tremendous insight in both what we cannot share with our women and how we can share with our men.